My oldest daughter danced around me oblivious. My youngest daughter plotted her next great attempt at escape while buckled into the cart in front of me. I couldn’t take my eyes off the little boy standing at the register in front of us. He stood between his parents, but I only saw him.
I only saw him from behind. He was you at age 2. When it was just us. Those little plaid shorts. Crocks on his feet. If I imagined really hard, I could see you standing there.
I gripped the cart so tight. Part of me was afraid what would happen if I let go.
I tried not to blink for fear this would pass. I was standing in a real moment from so long ago. Or so it felt. There you were. Yet, I didn’t want to stare too hard for fear of being the “crazy lady in the check out line”. All I could think was, “So this is what yearning feels like.” Another thing I thought I understood until that moment.
The need to hug you was so intense it overwhelmed me. Consumed me. My arms burned. No doubt my heart stopped beating. Desperation dripped from my every pore. The world stopped. This little boy was you. If I could have taken him into my arms and cried, I would have. The cart I gripped was the only thing that kept me upright.
As quickly as it began, it was over. You exited the store and I was transported back to a life I still struggle to like.
That moment stays with me. It happened at 15 months. How was it possible to take that long to learn what it was like to start missing you? I thought I had felt it all along, but like everything else, this journey is never what it seems. Grief plays by it’s own rules. Just when you start to gain some control, it takes it right back. Proof you had no clue.
Grief comes in waves, I know. This wave crashed far above my head and plunged me into the deep end. It washed away and was gone. That empty feeling returned to my chest. The one that reminds me you are gone. I’m still learning what it means to miss you.
So this is yearning.